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Rivalry Week: What it means for…

Nick Saban AP

Rivalry Week is at once the best and worst of times for college football fans.

At its best, this extended weekend wrapped around the Thanksgiving holiday offers up a litany of games that mean something beyond conference or BCS implications, giving all fan bases something just as meaty and satisfying: bragging rights and pride, especially when it’s an in-state rival humbled in defeat on the opposing sideline.  At its worst, however, this weekend means that yet another college football season is quickly wrapping up, with just a handful of regular season games remaining to go along with conference championship games and bowls.

There are, though, the obvious implications beyond just bragging rights and pride.  Myriad implications, from conference races to BCS placement to the chase for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

So, with that as the backdrop, here’s a look at the marquee matchups for Week 14 and the potential implications the outcomes of the games could/would/should have on all fronts.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn
“The Mother of All Iron Bowls” indeed.  The stunning turnaround by Auburn under Gus Malzahn — from 3-9, 0-8 last season to 10-1, 6-1 in 2013 — has nearly overshadowed Alabama’s quest for three straight BCS titles and four in five years .  Who would’ve thought, prior to September, that this year’s version of the Iron Bowl would carry more conference and national weight than Alabama’s games against Texas A&M and LSU combined?  Certainly not anyone who doesn’t end their prayers with “War Damn Eagle!”  Speaking of a Higher Football Power, the last four Iron Bowl winners have gone on to win the BCS championship.

What it means for…
… the SEC: Everything, at least as far as the West is concerned.  It’s a winner-take-all battle, with the victor staking its claim to the divisional title and a spot in the conference championship game against either Missouri or South Carolina.  The Tide would earn a share of the divisional title even with a loss, although, obviously, the head-to-head tiebreaker would go to the Tigers with a win.
… the BCS: An Alabama win keeps the No. 1 Tide on its year-long inside track for one of the two spots in the BCS title game.  Even with a loss, Alabama would be a near-shoe-in for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, although that wouldn’t be clarified until after the conference championship game.  The same could be said for Auburn, which would get serious consideration for an at-large bid despite an Iron Bowl loss.
… the Heisman: Thanks to the missteps of others in Week 13, AJ McCarron has suddenly vaulted into the No. 2 position behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston in the eyes of both the voters and the oddsmakers.  A strong performance on a national stage would most certainly keep the Tide quarterback toward the top of the conversation and, depending on how the Winston off-field situation plays out, could send him hurtling toward front-runner status.

No. 2 Florida State at Florida
To say that the Sunshine State rivalry has lost some luster for this year’s game would be an understatement.  While Florida State is more than holding up its end of the bargain — nationally-ranked and seemingly predestined for a shot at the crystal — Florida enters the game armed with an embattled head coach and a six-game losing streak that’s the program’s worst since 1979.  The Gators won last year in Tallahassee, although the Seminoles are four-touchdown favorites this year in The Swamp.  While his boss continues to back him, Will Muschamp directing an embarrassing blowout loss in Gainesville could force Jeremy Foley to reconsider that very strident public support.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Literally nothing for either conference.  FSU has already locked up the Atlantic division’s spot in the ACC championship game, while UF was long ago eliminated from SEC East contention.
… the BCS: For a team that’s outscored its opponents 402-65 the past seven games, this game would appear to be nothing more than a worn-down speed bump on its inexorable march to the BCS title game.  Seemingly the only thing standing between the Seminoles and an early-January date in the Rose Bowl is a win over the Gators as well as an ACC championship game in which they will be prohibitive favorites regardless of which team comes out of the Coastal.
… the Heisman: For Jameis Winston, the Heisman is his for the taking — provided he doesn’t trip over himself the next two weeks and, more importantly, the investigation into an alleged sexual assault doesn’t give him bigger things to worry about than a fumbled trophy.

No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan has stumbled through a disappointing season with a 7-4 record that could easily be sub-.500 were it not for a couple of escapes against vastly inferior opponents.  At the other end of the spectrum is Ohio State, riding a nation’s best 23-game winning streak.  In fact, the Buckeyes set a school record last weekend, surpassing the 22-game streak of the 1967-69 squads.  The team that snapped the previous mark?  The 7-2 Wolverines in Ann Arbor, of course.  When it comes to The Game, you just never ever know  — especially when a heavy home underdog is involved.

What it means for…
… the Big Ten: As is the case for the game above this one, absolutely nothing.  Not only have the Buckeyes already clinched the Leaders division, they also already know they will face Legends winner Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend in Indianapolis.  Thanks to NCAA sanctions last year, OSU will be making its first-ever appearance in the conference title game.
… the BCS: If Ohio State has any shot at a BCS title, they have to hope either Alabama or Florida State loses once the next two weekends.  Outside of the crystal title game, they could also earn an automatic BCS bowl bid with two more wins, or perhaps an at-large bid with a loss in the Big Ten title game.  Either way, their BCS future won’t be decided until next weekend, although it could certainly take a significant at-large hit with a loss this weekend.
… the Heisman: When it comes to the Buckeyes and stiff-armed talk, “what if” is certainly in play.  Braxton Miller entered the 2013 season as the Heisman front-runner, but an injury that cost him a pair of September games knocked him completely off the radar.  Thanks to the stumbles of others, the quarterback is back on at least the periphery of the discussion, although it would take something monumental to once again make the junior a serious contender.  Perhaps Carlos Hyde, he of the three-game suspension to start the year, could make a late push?  Doubtful, but, as the last couple of weeks have shown, anything is possible when it comes to the most prestigious award in college football.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina
Stated simply, South Carolina has owned this rivalry of late with wins each of the past four years, with none coming by less than 10 points.  Steve Spurrier has Dabo Swinney‘s number and is not shy about letting people know about it, which is part and parcel of why this is such a tremendous non-conference rivalry.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Clemson’s chances at an Atlantic division title went down in flames in the midst of a 37-point beatdown at the hands of Florida State in mid-October.  If Missouri loses to Texas A&M, South Carolina will represent the East in the SEC championship game.
… the BCS: The Gamecocks’ lone opportunity for a BCS bowl rests in securing the SEC’s automatic bid via a conference championship.  If Florida State does indeed make the BCS title game, the Tigers are primed to replace the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl and insert the 70-33 jokes here.
… the Heisman: You would think that Tajh Boyd would be in the thick of the Heisman conversation.  The Clemson quarterback’s not, and I don’t have a clue as to why.

No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford
While it’s hardly on par with Notre Dame-USC, Notre Dame-Stanford has evolved into quite the entertaining rivalry the past several years.  Of the past nine games played, six have been decided by eight points or less.  The Irish own a 6-3 edge during that span, including an overtime win in South Bend last season en route to the BCS championship game.

What it means for…
… the Pac-12: The North division’s game of hot potato continued — and ultimately ended — last week thanks to Oregon’s lopsided loss to Arizona, handing the division title and a spot in the conference title game to Stanford.  The Cardinal will (likely) travel a week later to South winner Arizona State for a game that will decide the league’s automatic BCS berth.  If the Sun Devils lose to the same Wildcats that dumped the Ducks, the Cardinal would play host.
… the BCS: The Irish have no chance to move into the top-14 of the final BCS rankings necessary to qualify them for an at-large BCS bid.  If the Cardinal entertain any hope of qualifying for a fourth straight BCS bowl, they will need to win the conference; a third loss, whether it be this week or next, would effectively eliminate them from at-large contention.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri
One year after Texas A&M exploded onto the SEC scene in wildly-entertaining fashion, the Aggies have been reduced to playing the role of spoiler to a fellow former Big 12 member.  Playing the role of 2012 A&M is Missouri, which enters Week 14 with something the Aggies of a year ago didn’t: an opportunity to claim its first SEC divisional crown.

What it means for…
… the SEC: The conference scenario for Mizzou is very simple and straightforward.  Win, and the Tigers are in the SEC championship game as the East’s representative.  Lose and they’re out, replaced by South Carolina.
… the BCS: With three losses on their current résumé, there’s no need to use “A&M” and “BCS bowl” in the same sentence, unless it’s separated by “won’t be in a.”  Just as it was for its conference scenario, Mizzou’s BCS dreams are very simple and straightforward: win this weekend… win next weekend… and they’re in as the SEC’s automatic bid.  Lose at any point the next two weeks, and the Tigers will (very likely) be sitting outside the BCS window looking in.
… the Heisman: Johnny Manziel made significant repeat strides in the eyes of those who passionately follow the Heisman the last several weeks before a damaging performance against LSU seemingly knocked him out of contention.  Of course, based on how the stiff-armed landscape has drastically shifted the past couple of weeks, a resurgent performance against a high-quality opponent could put the reigning Heisman winner right back in the conversation.

Texas Tech at Texas
No. 9 Baylor at TCU
The most interesting aspect of this pair of games is how Baylor responds to an embarrassing and devastating loss.  In firm control of the Big 12 race entering Week 13 and with a BCS title game appearance a possibility, the Bears’ loss to Oklahoma State all but ruined what was a once-promising season.  A loss to the Cowboys the previous week, oddly enough, also cost Texas control of its own destiny in the conference.

What it means for…
… the Big 12: Here are the scenarios for each of the one-loss teams currently tied atop the Big 12 standings and what they need to happen to claim the conference crown.

  • Oklahoma State: a win over Oklahoma in Bedlam Dec. 7 coming off a bye week, regardless of what Baylor or Texas do and based on head-to-head wins over both.
  • Baylor: an OSU loss, plus wins over TCU and Texas.
  • Texas: an OSU loss, plus wins over Texas Tech and Baylor.

… the BCS: For both Baylor and Texas, their BCS bowl odds are long.  Each needs an Oklahoma State loss in order to claim the Big 12’s automatic berth as neither will be in play for an at-large bid, although there’s an asterisk when it comes to that absolute –there are a couple of scenarios that could get BU in as an at-large, although they are longshots at best and pipe dreams at worst.

No. 24 Duke at North Carolina
Will the shoe fit, or will the clock strike midnight on Duke’s Cinderella season?  The Blue Devils are in the midst of a historic campaign, with nine wins tying the school record set in 1941 and the opportunity to reach double digits for the first time since the program began playing football back in 1922.  They’ve qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.  Simply put, Duke is one of the best stories of the 2013 season.  Whether the Blue Devils cap their fairy-tale story with a divisional crown remains to be seen.

What it means for…
… the ACC: If Duke beats North Carolina, which has won five straight after beginning the season 1-5, the Blue Devils will stake their claim to their first-ever ACC Coastal title.  If not?  A five-way tie between Duke (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-3), Miami (4-3), Georgia Tech (5-3) and North Carolina (4-3) is a possibility, although only the first four remain alive in the divisional race.  So, if Duke loses and all Coastal hell breaks loose, here’s what each team would need in order to secure the spot as Florida State’s sacrificial lamb in the ACC championship game.

  • Duke: a win over North Carolina; cannot win the division with a loss.
  • Virginia Tech: a Duke loss, plus a win over Virginia.
  • Miami: a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, plus a win over Pittsburgh.
  • Georgia Tech (ACC slate complete): a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, a Miami loss.

… the BCS: Whichever team survives the Coastal chaos and represents the division in the division in the ACC championship technically has an opportunity to secure an automatic BCS bid.  Realistically, none of the four teams with a chance to win the Coastal has any type of shot at upsetting the Seminoles in Charlotte.

USF at No. 19 UCF
How little respect does UCF get?  The Knights, whose lone loss on the season came by three points to No. 10 South Carolina, are ranked by the coaches three spots behind a one-loss Louisville team that UCF beat on the road.  Obviously the lack of respect for the AAC as a whole is playing a significant role, but it doesn’t change the fact that George O’Leary‘s squad deserves better treatment in the polls than what they’ve been getting.

What it means for…
… the AAC: A win by UCF pushes its conference record to 7-0 and clinches the AAC regardless of what the Knights do a week later against SMU.  Louisville’s conference title hopes remain alive but on life support, with the Cardinals needing two UCF losses as well as a win of their own Dec. 5 at Cincinnati.
… the BCS: The AAC receives an automatic BCS bid, so a conference crown for UCF also means a guaranteed spot at the BCS table, with the chair likely coming in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC foe.

No. 16 Fresno State at San Jose State
This game is all about the scenarios and possibilities, which appear below.

What it means for…
… the MWC: Fresno State has already clinched the West and will represent that division in the MWC championship game.  The Bulldogs will face Utah State for the league title if the Aggies beat Wyoming Saturday, Boise State — based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with USU — if the Broncos beat New Mexico and the Aggies lose.
… the BCS: If Fresno State can win out, they will battle Northern Illinois for what should be the lone BCS bowl berth for a non-automatic qualifying conference member.  In order for a non-AQ to qualify for an at-large bid, it needs to finish in the top-16 of the final BCS rankings and ahead of the lowest-ranked AQ conference winner (No. 19 UCF in this case); the Huskies leapfrogged the Bulldogs in last week’s rankings and are now at No. 14, while Fresno sits at No. 16.  Whichever of those two teams finish ranked higher in the final BCS standings, provided it’s in the top-16 and ahead of (presumably) UCF, will grab the non-AQ berth and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
… the Heisman: Derek Carr is one of the most prolific passers in the country, ranking first in total offense and passing touchdowns and second in passing yards.  Up until this week, however, he’s barely been a part of the Heisman discussion.  Thanks to the shortcomings of others he’s now in the mix, although it should never have taken others tripping up for that to happen.

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Pair of four-star CBs qualify, will play for Gamecocks

Thumbs Up

When we last checked on the qualifying efforts of South Carolina’s Class of 2014, there was concern that as many as eight of the 21 signees would fail to qualify academically.

A couple of weeks later, it’s not quite as bad as originally feared.

Head coach Steve Spurrier confirmed at a charity event Thursday night that a pair of touted cornerbacks, Chris Lammons and Wesley Green, have qualified and will be a part of the team in 2014. According to Saturday Down South, “[b]oth players’ standardized test scores were flagged prior to summer enrollment, which forced an unexpected cram session prior to the test’s re-take on July 11.”

Both Lammons and Harris were four-star prospects, with the former rated as the No. 14 corner in the country and the latter No. 17.  One or both are expected to contribute immediately to the Gamecocks’

The positive development regarding the two defensive backs means USC’s 2014 recruiting class will consist of 15 players instead of the original 21. The six not making the cut academically? Cornerback Darin Smalls, fullback Joe Blue, defensive tackle Dexter Wideman and defensive ends Dante Sawyer, Kalan Ritchie and Jhaustin Thomas.

Wideman is the highest ranked of that group, rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com.

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Suspended FSU WR has felony reduced

Florida State Spring Game Getty Images

A new development has cleared the path for the return of Jesus Wilson to Florida State.  How soon that happens, however, remains to be seen.

According to WarChant.com, Wilson has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft after originally being charged with a felony in connection to the “borrowing” of a scooter earlier this month.  As for punishment meted out by the courts, the wide receiver will perform 30 hours in a work camp and serve a probationary period of one year.

Additionally, he’s already made restitution.

July 9, Wilson was arrested and charged with the theft of a motor scooter back on June 11.  Here are some of the pertinents from the reports:

The keys were in the ignition, making a getaway rather easy. The owner of the moped, Sebastian Bellini, informed police he thought he dropped the keys. Soon after the alleged theft, Wilson crashed the vehicle with damages costing $882.13. When police investigated the accident Wilson told police he had borrowed the scooter from a friend. When asked to identify the friend who had allegedly lent him the vehicle, Wilson failed to show up to a photo lineup. Wilson later sent the police a statement claiming to have taken the bike, which led to an arrest just days later.

Because of the felony charge, Wilson was automatically and indefinitely suspended according to FSU policy. Based on the fact that the charge was dropped to a misdemeanor, he’s now eligible for reinstatement.

Wilson was a three-star member of the Seminoles’ 2013 recruiting class who caught three passes for 23 yards as a true freshman. Provided he’s back with the team, Wilson’s expected to play a bigger role in FSU’s offense in 2014.

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Ex-Tide RB Dee Hart says he’s headed to Colo. St.

Michigan v Alabama Getty Images

A few months after being “parting ways” with Alabama, Dee Hart apparently found a new football home.  And, when he gets there, he’ll find a very familiar face.

In a text message Wednesday, Dee Hart confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that he is in the process of transferring to Colorado State.  The Rams’s head coach is Jim McElwain, who was Alabama’s offensive coordinator when the running back signed with the Tide in 2011.

Because Hart has already graduated from UA, he’s expected to be eligible to play for CSU immediately in 2014.

Hart was a touted five-star member of the Tide’s 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 1 running back in the country.  The paper talent never translated to the field in Tuscaloosa as Hart’s career totals are just 43 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown.

In February of this year, Hart was arrested and charged with giving false information and possession of marijuana. It was revealed at that time that Hart hadn’t been a part of the team since shortly after the Tide’s Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

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Former Texas A&M DE heading to Houston

SMU v Texas A&M

The search for a new football home did not take long for former Texas A&M defensive end Gavin Stansbury. Stansbury plans to join the Houston Cougars of the American Athletic Conference and will be eligible to play immediately this fall. The news was first reported by Joseph Duarte The Houston Chronicle and followed  up by Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports via Twitter.

Just last week Texas A&M confirmed Stansbury decided to leave the program. This decision was made following an arrest after a traffic stop. There was a warrant for Stansbury’s arrest stemming from an altercation at a party at Rice University in April. Stansbury was faced with a misdemeanor charge for assault. Stansbury was suspended from team activities but had returned following the arrest.

As far as football is concerned, this is a nice addition for Houston. Stansbury was a three-star prospect at defensive end according to Rivals.com. The Cougars were picked third in the AAC this season, behind Cincinnati and defending champion UCF. Stansbury appeared in 10 games last season for Texas A&M and finished seventh on the team with 47 tackles and tied for the team-high with three sacks. He is ready to step right in and see some significant playing time for the Cougars.

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Playbooks on iPads are not quite as exciting for kickers

iPad

One of the perks of playing college football at a big program is getting an iPad loaded with the playbook on it every season. Today many players started getting their digital playbooks as camps start opening up. This tends to be a pretty exciting time for college football players, and they are surely advised not to share any of the information through public forums like Facebook or Twitter.

Sometimes players can get away with it. Kickers, for example, have a pretty simple role on a college football team. Kick the ball far on kickoffs and between the poles on extra point and field goal attempts.

Here is the playbook’s instructions to Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

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Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon “not reporting at this time”

Joe Mixon

As a legal investigation continues to cloud the future of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, the university has issued a statement stating the five-stare Class of 2014 addition is not currently reporting to team activities. That is about as close as we have gotten to any word of a possible indefinite suspension for the talented running back expected to contribute right away for the Sooners.

Mixon was reportedly involved in a serious altercation over the weekend, with a 20-year old female reportedly being the other party involved and injured in the incident in question. Mixon’s attorney has stated his client’s innocence, but police continue to work the investigation to determine the next steps. The timeline for the police investigation is unknown just yet, but is expected to continue into next week and perhaps longer.

It is typical for schools to indefinitely suspend players tied to any ongoing legal investigations, so it was probably only a matter of time before Oklahoma released this type of statement, with summer camps set to open.

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Season tickets at Iowa could net you free tuition

Michigan v Iowa

Iowa is going to offer free tuition to five students, chosen at random, who have purchased season tickets for the upcoming 2014 season. If nothing else, it is one way to battle the downward trend in college football attendance.

“The fans in the stadium really feed off the energy from students, so we’d like to have a full student section,” Lisa Pearson, director of marketing for Iowa said to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “We’re trying to get as many students into the stadium as possible.”

Iowa typically reserves 10,000 tickets for students, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, but only about 7,300 were sold last season. Overall season ticket sales have also dipped at Iowa with 52,000 tickets sold last season for Kinnick Stadium, which holds more than 70,000 on game day.

Students at Iowa might want to take the gamble on free tuition. Iowa should be a pretty good team this season and could easily play into the Big Ten West along with Wisconsin and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes always seem to have a year that comes out of nowhere and that appears to be what many are thinking this season. Iowa was picked second in the unofficial Big Ten media poll last week.

UPDATED (8:21 PM ET): It seems there may be a concern over this whole plan now. Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta released the following statement, as shared by KWWL;

“This afternoon we learned of concerns related to a student football promotion,” Barta said in a written statement. “A question has been raised whether the promotion is compliant with state raffle laws. I have suspended the promotion temporarily as we determine how to make sure that this promotion is in complete compliance.

“In the end, our goal is to do everything possible to make sure that the student experience at Hawkeye football games is as fun and exciting as possible,” he added.

So now there is a waiting game to find out if Iowa will be able to follow trough on this plan.

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Coaches at Penn State and Pitt trying to reignite the rivalry

James Franklin

Penn State and Pittsburgh used to play every season, but once the two programs went their separate ways by joining the Big East (Pitt) and Big Ten (Penn State), it has been a struggle to get the two programs to see eye-to-eye when it came to scheduling any future games. Much of the tension stemmed from the days of Joe Paterno leading the Penn State program and demanding an extra home game in any scheduling arrangement with Pittsburgh, but that is best left for historians to dig deeper into today. Penn State and Pittsburgh have a four-game series lined up for 2016 through 2019. If it was up to the head coaches of both programs today, the series would continue on an annual basis.

The topic of power conference opponents scheduling other power conference opponents has become an increasingly relevant topic with the emphasis shifting on strength of schedule in the College Football Playoff era. With Pitt also needing to fulfill a non-conference scheduling requirement to schedule an opponent from another power conference opponent each season under the ACC’s new guidelines, it would seem only natural for the Panthers to explore the revival of past annual rivalries against either West Virginia or Penn State.

Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst was asked about historic and regional rivals Penn State and West Virginia this week while moving through the ESPN car wash. In what may come as a bit of a surprise, Chryst told Brett McMurphy of ESPN he would prefer to see an annual match-up with Penn State instead of West Virginia if he had to choose between the two. Penn State head coach James Franklin appears to be on the same page, telling McMurphy today on his run through the ESPN media gauntlet he would support seeing an annual series with the Panthers.

What needs to happen before this can actually become an annual tradition in the Keystone State? There may not be a whole lot that needs to fall into place, although Penn State playign a nine-game schedule in the Big Ten moving forward while the ACC sticks to an eight-game schedule will present many of the same problems faced with reviving the Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. In the end, Penn State’s desire to assure an extra home game on the schedule could resurface in a different capacity by ensuring Penn State has seven home games at a minimum for years to come.

With new leadership in place at both schools compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps getting these two in-state rivals back together for the long term could be a more realistic possibility.

Penn State and Pittsburgh last played in 2000. The two schools agreed to a two-game series in 2016 and 2017 and later agreed to extend the series by two more games through 2019. Penn State leads the all-time series, 44-41-4.

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Pac-12 QBs set pace for Unitas Award watch list

Marcus Mariota

For those who thought — or were hoping — they’d seen the last of these types of posts this year, you are sadly mistaken.

The latest to release its preseason watch list is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior (eligibility-wise or academically) quarterback.  In other words, don’t freak out because Florida State’s Jameis Winston or the like aren’t included.

Among those who are included are three semifinalists for last year’s award, with all three hailing from the Pac-12: Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly (no relation), Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Speaking of the Pac-12, they paced all conferences with seven quarterbacks on the watch list.  The Big Ten was next with six, followed by the SEC (five), Big 12 (three), Mountain West (two) and one each from the AAC, ACC and Conference USA.  Prairie View A&M’s Jerry Lovelocke was the only non-FBS player to make the initial cut.

AJ McCarron of Alabama was the 2013 recipient of the award.

Below is the complete list of 27 players:

2014 Unitas Award Preseason Watch List

 

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Reports: Josh Turner has dismissal reversed, still with ‘Horns

Mississippi v Texas

Hold the phone on at least one of the players reportedly booted past the Austin city limits.

Both Rivals.com and 24/7Sports.com are reporting that Josh Turner is once again a member of the Texas football team.  Per the latter recruiting website, Turner was set to transfer when, “just prior to Turner finalizing his plans, head coach Charlie Strong allowed Turner to appeal to the decision of his dismissal.”

A meeting with head coach Charlie Strong was held Tuesday night that went well enough that Turner was placed back on the team, albeit with what 247Sports termed as “severe restrictions.” What those restrictions entail wasn’t divulged.

Turner has started five games in the secondary during his 37-game UT career.  He will be a senior in 2014.

Running back Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet along with defensive end Chevoski Collins remain on the outside of the program looking in and are not expected to see their dismissals reversed. Bergeron is seeking to be released from his scholarship so he can transfer to a Div. II school in the state.

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Stanford’s Ty Montgomery ‘ahead of schedule’ in shoulder rehab

Ty Montgomery, Kameron Jackson

Maybe the situation’s not as dire as it appeared at first blush.

Ty Montgomery is in the midst of recovering from shoulder surgery, with Stanford’s David Shaw acknowledging this weekend that the star wide receiver might not miss just the opener against UC-Davis but the following Saturday’s conference opener against USC as well.  While there’s certainly the possibility that Montgomery could be held out of the opener — see: competition, level of — there appears to be more optimism regarding the game against the Trojans.

“Ty’s ahead of schedule. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Shaw said Wednesday.

As for holding out Montgomery for the opener even if he’s healthy enough? At least in the here and now, the Cardinal head coach doesn’t want to hear that kind of talk.

“f he’s ready to go Game 1 and the doctors say, `You know what, he’s at limited risk for re-injury, let’s let him go play,’ I’m all for it,” Shaw said. “There’s no babying football players. If Ty’s ready to go, he’s returning kickoffs, he’s playing the game. If he’s not, we’ll hold him off. I don’t have an issue with that.”

For his part, Montgomery said today that “[w]henever they can tell me I can play, I’m ready to play.”

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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Report: Chris Gallon, one of BGSU’s top WRs, could miss season

Kent State v Bowling Green Getty Images

If it weren’t for bad injury luck, Chris Gallon wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Speculation has surfaced recently that the Bowling Green wide receiver either suffered a significant new injury or had reinjured his knee.  While the school has yet to address what if any injury issue the wide receiver may be facing, the whispers are growing louder.  And sounding season-ending-ish before the season even gets started.

From the Twitter account of WTOL-TV’s Jordan Strack:

The loss of Gallon certainly wouldn’t be optimal for BGSU’s offense.

In 2012, Gallon led all Falcon receivers in catches (54), yards (720) and receiving touchdowns (six).  He was second in all three categories last year (24-232-2) when he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending injury.

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After putting arm through window, LSU’s Lealaimatafao likely lost for year

LSU Trey

In a move not even remotely unexpected, it appears LSU won’t have one member of its 2014 recruiting class at its disposal.

In a tweet, Ross Dellenger of the Baton Rouge Advocate confirmed that, according to head coach Les Miles, “Trey Lealaimatafao will ‘probably not‘ play this season after arm injury.”

Last week, Lealaimatafao suffered what was initially feared to be an amputation-level injury to his arm after punching through a weight-room window. Fortunately for Lealaimatafao, the physical damage wasn’t as severe as initially reported and the defensive tackle was released from the hospital two days later.

One day after his release, was Lealaimatafao was arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle from an on-campus library.

Lealaimatafao was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 26 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 43 player in the state of Texas at any position.

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After transferring from Tide, Josh Magee now leaving S. Alabama

Josh Magee

Josh Magee has already left one FBS football program, and is set on doing the same a second time.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones confirmed to al.com that Magee has decided to leave the Jaguars due to family reasons.  The website wrote that “Magee will look to play elsewhere, probably closer to his home in Hoover (Ala.).”

The move came as a surprise as Magee had a solid spring practice, with Jones saying that “obviously, we had high expectations for Josh.”

Magee was a member of the Tide’s 2012 recruiting class, but took a redshirt his true freshman season. After one season in Tuscaloosa, he decided to transfer to USA, sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws.

He exited spring this year as one of the Jaguars’ No. 2 wide receivers.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Starting Lobo lineman arrested on pair of charges

Jamal Price

Yes, yes, another post, another arrest.

The latest college football player to run afoul of the law is New Mexico’s Jamal Price, who the Albuquerque Journal is reporting was arrested following a domestic incidence Monday.  Specifically, the offensive lineman was charged with breaking & entering and conspiracy to commit a fourth-degree felony.

The paper wrote that “[a] criminal complaint says he pushed his girlfriend and Lobo basketball player Khadijah Shumpert at her apartment on Monday night in a dispute over an ‘Apple’ television.”

Because of the arrest and subsequent charges, Price has been indefinitely suspended from the team.

“I do think there is a level of frustration that’s shared by the coaches and the players,” Lobos head coach Bob Davie said. “In fact, I know that. I know guys want to make the right decision. They understand what it takes to make the right decision and they are hurt by this. I know our football team is hurt by this.”

Price started 10 games for the Lobos in 2013.  He was listed as the starting right guard on UNM’s depth chart heading into summer camp.

(Tip O the Cap: ArrestNation.com)

(Photo credit: New Mexico athletics)

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